Ramen Hacks

Personally, when I eat ramen, I usually just raid my fridge and pantry and see how I can make the noodles more substantial. Leftover chicken, leftover steak, carrots, onions, eggs, their all fair game for my concoctions. In this same spirit, the Houston Press has an interesting article by Katharine Shilcutt about "ramen hacks to make the noodles taste better while still staying within a pretty small budget". One idea, which is linked in the article is dipping raw ramen into salsa. Personally, I think this sounds great!

However, I learned back in college that Ramen tastes absolutely foul when prepared according to the package's instructions. (Not to mention that little flavoring packet is a vicious sodium bomb.) Instead, I came up with all manner of "hacks" to make the noodles taste better while still staying within a pretty small budget.

Here are five of my favorite Ramen recipes, good for small budgets and large appetites. (And none of them involve breaking off pieces of Ramen blocks and dipping them into salsa. You're welcome.)

My favorite from this article? Ramen pizza.

Toki Underground in DC Looks Pretty Interesting

Someone sent me a link to a new ramen shop in DC which has an amazingly simple menu: Ramen, Dumplings, and 5 sides and some pretty cool decor. Just based on the pictures and descriptions of the food, I'd love to try this place, but unfortunately it's 1500 miles away from me. It sounds like you may have quite a wait for the food, 2-3 hours based on this article.

A segment of the above link:

Situated above The Pug, Toki Underground is a little jewel box of a restaurant. A lot of thought has been put into the interior, which is a funky mash-up of skateboards, colorful graffiti and cutely subversive Japanese toys. The narrow space is ringed with approximately two dozen counter seats, an open kitchen in the back and a shared bathroom sink so small you might miss it if you're not paying attention. Clever details -- like the blinking pachinko games embedded into the bar and dessert served in panda-shaped bento boxes -- add a twist of whimsy to the otherwise edgy atmosphere.

As for the food, Toki Underground definitely hits more than it misses. The menu is short and sweet, focusing on a selection of ramen and dumplings. Toki Underground doesn't exactly serve traditional Japanese ramen, but Chef Erik Bruner-Yang's renditions are enjoyable nonetheless. The menu features five different kinds of ramen ($10 for a bowl), four made with a tonkotsu (pork bone) broth and one vegetarian broth made with shitake mushrooms and kombu (seaweed).

I'm a pretty simple guy and I don't like to wait 3 hours for a meal for anything really, but this place just sounds cool. If any of my DC area readers try this place, let me know and send pics!

Travelling Ramen Shows in Portland

In Portland, Oregon, Chef Patrick Fleming and Brannon Riceci has created a travelling ramen roadshow called "Boke Bowl". You can follow Boke Bowl on Facebook or Twitter if you live in the area and see where their next visit is going to be. Unfortunately, the town where I live is too small to have cool ideas like this, but Portland is a great town and stuff like this is why. If anyone from Portland tries this, let me know!

Here in Portland, Chef Patrick Fleming has set out to share his take on ramen in an interesting, if not ephemeral, way. Fleming and longtime friend Brannon Riceci started "Boke Bowl," a sporadic, traveling ramen roadshow that takes over various spaces throughout the city and uses them as pop-up restaurants.

Fleming's take on ramen is admittedly not the traditional fare, but nonetheless, it aims to please with its pan-Asian fusion of ingredients and style.

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New Zero Calorie Ramen to Use Recycled Plastic

Several ramen companies in Korea have joined together and are working on what they claim will "reduce Western fattiness and beautify our cities". Their solution? Ramen noodles made from recycled plastic. It sounds odd and maybe not flavorful, so I'll just quote them, "plastic is heated and molded into noodles. During this process it is infused with best flavors for enjoyable tasting. The person will not digest this noodles and so, no fat gaining!". They further claim that "using old plastic bottles and bags will increase beauty in all cities".

image by Steve Bullivant

No release date was given for the new noodles, although I'm betting on Earth Day. Personally I think the idea is great and can't wait to try them.

photo by Andrea Rota